Preparing for Worship - March 26, 2017
Jesus said to his disciples "You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world." What does this mean and how does this change the way that we understand ourselves as disciples of Jesus and live in the day-to-day? Join us this Sunday as we look at these famous words of Jesus from Matthew's gospel. To view our full liturgy click here. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. PRAISE TO THE LORD THE ALMIGHTY
Style: We will be playing a modern take on the traditional version of this song. The melody will be the same but the chords will be simpler. We will play this mid-tempo.
Song Info: The melody of this hymn and original German lyrics date back to 1680 and is attributed to Joachim Neander. Catherine Winkworth translated it into English in 1863. It paraphrases both Psalm 103 and 150. This hymn usually falls under the category of "Praise and Thanksgiving" so it is an ideal song for a call to worship. This song focuses on God's role as creator and sustainer. As we sing it we call ourselves to recognize the work that God has done and is constantly doing to uphold our lives and care for us.
2. HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song with a "folk rock" sort of feel. It will be mid-tempo.
Song Info: This hymn is one of the most famous and popular hymns of all time. It was written by Reginald Heber in the late 18th century. Its main focus is on the Trinity. It was even written to be used on "Trinity Sunday" but it has become much more widely used and beloved. It's appropriate at this moment in the worship service because we are still meditating on the transcendence and glory of God but also beginning to recognize our own inadequacies. The hymn sings: "...though the eyes of sinful man thy glory may not see."
3. LIFT HIGH THE CROSS
Style: We will sing the traditional version of this song. It is low-tempo but triumphant and joyful.
Song info: This is another classic easter hymn that has an especial emphasis on Christian mission. It was written by George Kitchin in 1887 and set to the tune we'll be singing by Michael Newbolt in 1916. This song is rife with biblical imagery and allusions to Scripture - many from John's Gospel. Jesus said that when he was lifted up from the earth he would draw all men to himself. So we believe that when the cross of Christ is preached that the Holy Spirit uses it to draw the people of God to repentance and faith.
4. He Will Hold Me Fast
Style: This is a contemporary song that could easily be mistaken for a traditional hymn. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song info: The lyrics to this popular song were originally written by Ada Habershon (1861-1918). Although the original hymn never enjoyed much popularity and has been completely overtaken by this contemporary version. It was revived by Matthew Merker, worship pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church, in 2013 and since has been covered by many other worship artists.
The content of the song focuses on Christ's faithfulness to his people. Rather than singing that "we will cling to him!", we sing in this song "he will hold me fast!" The most memorable line says: "I could never keep my hold/ through life's fearful path/ for my love is often cold/ he must hold me fast". Singing this reminds us that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our salvation. If not for his faithfulness to us we would surely fall away. As Johannes Gerhardus Vos has put it, if Jesus died only to make it possible for people to be saved, then not a single person would be saved. Jesus did not only die for us but also is constantly at work through the Holy Spirit to give us the grace we need to respond to him.
5. GRACE ALONE
Style: This a contemporary song done in an up-tempo, indie rock style.
Song Info: Here is another tune written by Dustin Kensrue and appearing on his 2013 The Water and the Blood. This is one of my favorite worship songs written in a long time. What I love most about it is its unapologetic ode to God's pure grace. This song focuses on biblical and reformed themes of salvation by grace alone - that God has invaded our lives with his salvation. He has transformed our hearts and made us want to respond to his grace. He has done everything in our salvation and he alone ought to receive the glory. This tune attempts to give him just that. This is a good song for a call to worship because it approaches the Father with a humble heart overwhelmed by grace - a good starting point for worship.
See you Sunday!